Monthly Archives: February 2013

Gerónimo and Catarina López and the 1860-1880 Censuses

After their 1851 marriage, second cousins Gerónimo and Catarina López moved into the house of her father near Mission San Fernando, where Pedro López had once been the civil administrator of the secularized institution.  By the end of the 1850s, however, Pedro died and Gerónimo purchased a 40-acre tract from Maria de los Angeles Felíz de Burrows, a cousin, and on that new property he and Catarina built an adobe house that became a stage stop and hotel called López Station.  The 1850s was a decade that began with the recently-ended American conquest still creating ill-feeling among many Spanish-speaking Californians and also included the burgeoning years of the Gold Rush, in which Los Angeles-area cattle were in high demand among the rapidly-growing population of the Sierra Nevada Mountains towns in which gold was being sought.  The Gold Rush, however, wound down by the latter part of the decade and the local economy suffered as the demand for cattle declined and was also affected by a national depression in 1857.

This detail from the 1860 Federal Census shows the López family in two separate households.

This detail from the 1860 Federal Census shows the López family in two separate households.

The 1860 federal census for the area where the family resided was taken on 21 July by Nelson Williamson, who, like other census agents working in Los Angeles County, was clearly unfamiliar with the Spanish language.  Additionally, he had “Gronancio Lopes” in his own separate household, while the adjacent one was for “Catranio” and her children José J, “Louisa” or Luisa, and brother Valentín, the latter later building the López Adobe.  There were two other curiosities:  first, there was no occupation given for Gerónimo or the 18-year old Valentín and, second, Gerónimo and Catarina were checked off as being unable to read or write (as will be seen in later census listings, this identification as illiterate varied) while Valentín was not so described.  There was also space for self-reported real and personal property values, but none was recorded.  As to the children, José Jesús, age 7 was the eldest of the family’s eventually large family, being born in 1853.   Luisa, later McAlohan and who engaged in a significant remodel and modernization of the López Adobe, after she inherited and lived in it in the 1920s, was born in 1856.

A year and a half after the 1860 census, the local economy was further battered by a deluge that lasted from late December 1861 until near the end of January 1862.  Often dubbed “Noah’s Flood,” the series of downpours left up to an estimated 50 inches of rain, causing the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles basin, and other large areas to be covered almost entirely in water.  Without flood control and dams to check the flow of water out of the San Gabriel Mountains, the effects were devastating, especisally to the already reeling cattle ranching industry.  Then, as we now know from the El Niño/La Niña effect, the region suffered two consecutive years of bone-dry conditions, with perhaps only 4 inches of rain falling the next two years.  This decimating drought on the heels of the great floods was the death knell of the cattle business.

However, with the conclusion of the Civil War and an upswing in the local economy as it moved into agriculture as its mainstay, Los Angeles and its environs experienced a development and population boom unheard of in the area.  From the late 1860s to the mid 1870s, the region witnessed dramatic changes: a heavy increase in American and European migration that put Spanish-speakers in the minority for the first time; the growth of farming, as noted earlier, as the large cattle ranches of earlier decades were largely sold and subdivided into farm and town parcels; the introduction of a local railroad; the early stages of the oil industry; and many others.  When the 1870 census was taken, much of the transformation was underway, though greatly accelerated in the following five years.

A detail from the 1870 Federal Census shows the López family as they were well-established at their López Station property northwest of today's San Fernando.

A detail from the 1870 Federal Census shows the López family as they were well-established at their López Station property northwest of today’s San Fernando.

The count that year in the locale where the Lopez family lived was made by Jonathan D. Dunlap on 1 July and, like Williamson a decade before, Dunlap could not accurately record the name of Gerónimo, which he took for “Aramino,” though he was better with “Catharina.”  While her brother Valentín lived nearby with his wife and young children, the family of Gerónimo, listed as a farmer, and Catarina was rapidly multiplying.  José Jesús was age 17 and soon to leave home for employment in Santa Monica and, later with some reknown, at the fabled Tejon Ranch.  Luisa, recorded again as “Louisa”, was age 14 and would, by mid-decade, be married to Thomas Dunne and beginning her own large family with him.  Younger children included the twins Pablo and María Ygnacia, born in 1861, though, strangely, Pablo was not recorded with the family in the census;  Miguel, born in 1863, who did not survive childhood; 4 year old “Seleste” or Celeste; “Gracios” or Gracia, also known as Grace, who was born in 1866; Ramona, who was born in 1869; and the one-month old, listed here as “J.D.,” but who was actually Esteban or Stephen.  Dunlap also noted that Gerónimo and Catarina could, after all, read and write, but for the self-reported values in real estate and personal property, only $300 of the latter was put in his row of information.

In 1870, the family was well-established at its López Station property, which was along and received the business of travelers on the main road north from Los Angeles.  Within a couple of years, however, the Southern Pacific railroad was forced by federal legislation to build a line from San Francisco to the growing city.  This sparked a succession of new towns built along the emerging Southern Pacific lines, which were being built after 1873.  One of these was San Fernando, the project of Charles Maclay, and which was directly encouraged by Leland Stanford of the Southern Pacific.  It opened in 1874 as the local boom was becoming red-hot, but soon to cool off, as overspeculation, a national economy from 1873 finally having its effects, and, lastly, a burst of a stock bubble with silver mines at Virginia City, Nevada.  When Los Angeles’ Temple and Workman bank failed in early 1876, the local economy was in a doldrums and remained that way for about a decade.

When the 1880 census was conducted in the San Fernando township on 1 June by Albert Moffitt, the López family was enumerated at López Station.  Moffitt was no better than his predecessors at getting the head of the household’s name correct–it was listed as “Jeromia.”  Notably, his occupation was identified as “hotel keeper,” indicating the still-operating business at the Station.  “Catharine,” as with almost all women, was noted as “Keeping House.”  The family had continue to grow, meanwhile.  José Jesús, Luisa, and Pablo were no longer at home and the eldest child living there was Mary, age 18.  There were, however, still 10 children in the residence, including Mary; Miguel (16); “Celestia” (14); Gracia (13); Ramona (11); Stephen (9); Catarina (8); Saragosa or Sarah (7); Erlinda (6); and Ruby (3).  Also in the household were three boarders, Jesús and Tomás “Jackom,” ages 40 and 38 and from Mexico and California, respectively, and 17-year old Luis Ortega, also a California native—all three were listed as laborers and likely worked for the family at López Station.

In the 1880 Federal Census, the López family resided in the new San Fernando Township, but were still at their López Station holding.  With a few years, however, they would leave the Station and relocate to the town of San Fernando.

In the 1880 Federal Census, the López family resided in the new San Fernando Township, but were still at their López Station holding. With a few years, however, they would leave the Station and relocate to the town of San Fernando.

Within a short time of this census, the López family made a momentous decision.  With San Fernando and the railroad taking business away from the “landlocked” López Station, it was time to give up the business and property and move into town.  Catarina’s brother began the construction of the adobe residence known as the López Adobe and the family moved in about 1883.  With regards to the census, the 1890 count was lost in a fire in Washington, D. C.  So, our accounting of the family will pick up with the 1900 enumeration, supplemented by some records from the 1890s period.

Categories: Catarina Lopez, Geronimo Lopez, Lopez Adobe, Lopez History, Lopez Station, San Fernando History | Leave a comment

Find of the Week: Cribben and Sexton Universal Stove, ca. 1910s

The Cribben & Sexton cook stove in the ca. 1920s kitchen at the Lopez Adobe. Comparing it to the ones in the ads (below), it is clearly a different model, but does have common elements, suggesting it is fairly close in age to the others

The Cribben & Sexton cook stove in the ca. 1920s kitchen at the Lopez Adobe. Comparing it to the ones in the ads (below), it is clearly a different model, but does have common elements, suggesting it is fairly close in age to the others

Another interesting artifact that will be featured pretty prominently in the Lopez Adobe once it reopens is the Cribben & Sexton Universal stove that is currently on display in the 1920s-styled kitchen.

The kitchen itself is in the former breezeway linking the two-room adobe built first by Valentine López to the two-story main structure erected by him shortly afterward and later by his sister, Catarina, and her husband and second cousin, Gerónimo.  The breezeway was enclosed about 1925 by Luisa López McAlonan, daughter of Gerónimo and Catarina, when she made a number of major renovations to the structure.

In any case, the firm of Cribben & Sexton was originally founded in 1873 and are perhaps best known for the stoves, heaters and other items at its Chicago factory throughout much of the early 20th century.  While it may be very difficult to get an exact date on the stove in the Adobe, it certainly does bear a resemblance to those seen in the ads that are reproduced here and which date to the early 1920s, although it may be a bit earlier given some differences in styling and construction.

If this dating is reasonable, then the stove actually fits in very well with the period of the room in which it resides and can be considered a very modern update to whatever had been used in the previous forty years of occupancy of the house by the family.

This ad comes from a 1921 issue of the “Saturday Evening Post” and features a Cribben & Sexton cook stove similar to the other styles featured here

This ad comes from a 1921 issue of the “Saturday Evening Post” and features a Cribben & Sexton cook stove similar to the other styles featured here

As with any major appliance, the stove can be an illustration of how rapidly-changing technologies were being used to make housework faster for women, whether it was cooking on a stove like this, using the new electric vacuum cleaners, washing machines, sewing machines, refrigerators and other household devices that greatly reduced the time to do work around the house and opened up more leisure time.

This is a copy of a magazine advertisement from about 1920 showing a model of the Universal stove, manufactured by Chicago’s Cribben & Sexton, that is close in appearance to the appliance (see below) in the Lopez Adobe main kitchen.

This is a copy of a magazine advertisement from about 1920 showing a model of the Universal stove, manufactured by Chicago’s Cribben & Sexton, that is close in appearance to the appliance (see below) in the Lopez Adobe main kitchen.

Commodities deemed to be “modern” were highly coveted during this time period, as the country sought to build on the momentum of the Industrial Revolution. The concept of having a machine or other sort of apparatus doing tasks people once thought could only be done manually was all part of the draw toward modernity, and many consumers clamored to have these products in their homes. This is provided, of course, that the household could afford these items, which in the 1920s, were becoming more affordable and, therefore, accessible to greater numbers of American families.

While it is not known what the López family used to cook their food in the Adobe at any time during its long occupancy of the house from the early 1880s to the early 1960s, it seems reasonable to assume that, in the 1910s or 1920s, they could have used something quite close to the stove now in the kitchen.

If you’d like to learn more about Cribben & Sexton, click here to read about the company’s founders. 

Categories: Cribben & Sexton, Cribben and Sexton, Domestic life, Find of the Week, Home Life, Lopez Adobe, Universal Stove | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gerónimo and Catarina López and the 1850 Federal and 1852 State Censuses

A map of a part of the ex-Mission San Fernando granted to Samuel, an Indian, in 1845.

A map of a part of the ex-Mission San Fernando granted to Samuel, an Indian, in 1845.  The tract was sold to Maria de los Angeles Feliz de Burrows, who then sold the 40 acre section at the top right of the square-shaped parcel to her cousins Gerónimo and Catarina López in 1855 for $160.  Several years later, the couple built an adobe that became the López Station complex where they resided for over 20 years before moving to the Lopez Adobe in 1883.

When California was admitted as the thirty-first state in the American union in September 1850, the federal census for the rest of the country had already been conducted. So, officials in the new state had to scramble to conduct a later version of the census, which was enumerated in the Los Angeles area early in 1851. Unfortunately, there was only one census taker for the entire county, John Evertsen of San Gabriel, and his count was so poorly done that the state decided to take its own census the following year, 1852. The discrepancy was enormous, with Evertsen counting 1,610 persons in the town of Los Angeles and 3,530 in the county while the 1852 enumeration tallied nearly 8,000 persons. Most of the difference appears to be in the couny of native indigenous Indians–Evertsen only counted a couple hundred, while the state count had nearly 4,000!

In any case, Gerónimo López doesn’t appear on either the 1850 or 1852 censuses, but Catarina does. In the 1850 enumeration, taken 17 January 1851, the 17-year old is listed in the household of José (age 36) and Ramona (age 30) López. Yet, her parents are known to have been Pedro, who would have been about 45 years old, and Maria Ignacia Villa, who died at age 36 a few years prior in 1847. The book, Historical Adobes of Los Angeles Countyby John Kielbasa states that Catarina had left the Mission San Fernando in 1847, perhaps because of her mother’s death, and gone to Los Angeles to attend school. She may have still been at school, then in in early 1851 when Evertsen did his count, but it is not clear who José and Ramona López were.

Notably, four of her brothers resided in the household with her, these being Francisco, born about 1834, Pedro (1835), Esteban (1839), and Valentine (1843), this latter being the builder of the López Adobe. Meantime, there were two other young people in the residence, including José Antonio López, age 18, and Augusta López, age 10, but these were not known to have been siblings of Catarina and her four brothers and perhaps were connected to the heads of the household.

There is, however, one more resident to point out: 83-year old Dolores Salgado, who was the grandmother of Catarina. Born in Loreto, Baja California in 1768, María Dolores Salgado married Juan Bautista López (1754-1829) when she was 14 years old in 1782 at Loreto and bore at least a dozen children over the next twenty-seven years, with her youngest surviving child being Pedro, Catarina’s father. It would seem clear that there was some immediate connection between the elderly matriarch, who died in January 1854, and the José López who headed the household and whose residence included several grandchildren of Dolores Salgado López.

When the 1852 state census was conducted just a little more than a year later, Catarina, age 20, was listed along with the same Augusta who appeared with her in the 1850 enumeration, along with a male López whose name appears to be spelled as “Marosa” and whose age was 21 and occupation as “Laborer.” Yet, Catarina was married to Gerónimo in the Fall of 1851, so there is a mystery here that the poorly-recorded and maintained state census records do not explain. Moreover, Kielbasa explained, sensibly, that, after her marriage, Catarina returned to San Fernando with Gerónimo and resided with her father Pedro. The couple began their family with the birth of José Jesús in 1853.

According to Kielbasa, Gerónimo and Catarina purchased 40 acres of land that had been part of a 200-acre tract granted in 1845 to Samuel, a native Indian associated with the mission. In turn, the property passed to Maria de los Angeles Feliz de Burrows, a relation of Gerónimo and Catarina, and she sold the forty acres for $4 an acre. This was to be the location of the adobe that formed the center of López Station, hope to the couple for some twenty years. More on that later!

Categories: Catarina Lopez, Geronimo Lopez, Lopez Adobe, Lopez Station, Maria de los Angeles Feliz de Burrows, Pedro Lopez, San Fernando History | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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